High Five! Comics

Sweet Tooth #1: Best Buck I Ever Spent

Posted on: September 3, 2009


I’ll be completely honest. It’s been a really long time since I’ve gotten on board at issue #1 with a title outside of the Marvel or DC Universes. Other than Boom!’s Irredeemable, I never really had a desire to. But I was intrigued by an ad for Sweet Tooth on the back of a Comic Shop News one week and decided to pick it up when it came out. Going in blind is new to me. I’ve had a failed attempt or two (whoa there, Greek Street), and I got wary of going outside my tattered and torn “To Buy” list. But I took a chance.

I’m glad I did.

Writer and artist Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth starts and ends very vaguely. A boy named Gus lives in the woods with his Bible-thumping father. Gus is not allowed to leave these woods and has never seen anybody (ANYBODY) else. There was some accident and there were some strange “hybrid” babies born and then those babies were gone. Gus was one of these babies, born with antlers, pointy ears, and a nose like Ron Perlman in Beauty and the Beast.  Somebody’s been scattering around chocolate bars. That is all we are left to know.

The thing about this book is that despite how little you know about Gus and his father, they break your heart right from the start. Head’s up, spoilers abound from here on out. Gus appears to be EXTREMELY uneducated (the one time he sees telephone poles, they’re refered to as “falled-over crosses”) and dependent on his father. His dad is all he has and he is all his father has. And then he loses his father (let me restate that his father is the ONLY other person he’s EVER seen). That must be the pinnacle of loneliness.

And then he finds another chocolate bar.

Suddenly, he is thrust into a pretty fucked up situation. The candy has been left by hunters who have made a sport of hunting the hybrids and, with Gus being the last, he is the big prize. Imagine being such an outcast that there is nobody left alive that you have even ever met. And then the first two members of an actual society to come across you do so with the intention of killing you for sport. That would fuck up your perception of everything so fast, that it would break you immediately.

And then comes his savior. Another man with another rifle shoots one of the hunters with the line “God? Ain’t no God here.”

Excuse me, but fuuuuuck me. Poor Gus has had the only two things he’s come to know, love, and rely on (father and Christianity) taken away and deconstructed in front of his own eyes. What does he have left?

This was an extremely fast read, and yet so much happened. I can say that I am totally invested in this series. Gus is the poster-child of innocence and I’ll be damned if I don’t care what happens to him next. Once again, I have broken my wait-for-the-trade philosophy – I’ve got this issue, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next. Do yourself a huge fucking favor and pick this up.

Drink it with Johnnie Walker Black Label from an ankle flask…


4 Responses to "Sweet Tooth #1: Best Buck I Ever Spent"

#1 was pretty damned brilliant. Sweet Tooth is a great example of how comics are the only medium that’s consistently putting out NEW stories, and not just endlessly recycling existing properties. No offense to your usual buying habits, because I read the odd cape book or two myself, but books like this one are why I read comics.

Oh, no, I completely agree… I read this and felt like I did the first time I read Black Hole… It really is refreshing to find something so completely different…

No offense taken, dear, since you actually have no clue what we’re buying – just what we’ve written up in the past three weeks. 😉

We tend to be wait-for-trade with the non-capes – I find I prefer my Superheroes once a week – like a candy bar, or a frappucino, or a television guilty pleasure.

I buy the non-cape & tights, original works (House of Mystery, 100B, DMZ, Fables, Air, Ex Machina, and then some) in TPB. I want sit down and read the whooooolllle thing. Any given Wednesday, I’m picking up our DC/Marvel pulls, and a trade or two worth of something entirely different.

I suppose I just prefer them in different dosages.

Capes (and the licensing rights to them) keep comics in business; giving the medium the leeway to take a writer like Lemire and give him the ability to write a truly original weekly book on a big imprint.

I mean, I watch HIMYM for entirely different reasons than I watch, say Mad Men, ya know?

I was pretty surprised by this one. I’ve been seeing the preview for it in other Vertigo books, but it didn’t grab me at all (even worse is that they used the last several pages of the comic.) Still, for $1 it’s hard not to give it a shot, and it was totally worth it. Hope the following issues are just as intriguing.

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